Man receives life sentence for murdering Ealing woman to escape debt

  Posted: 13.10.21 at 19:14 by The Editor

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A man has been jailed for murdering a woman from Ealing after befriending her, in an attempt to save himself from a substantial amount of debt.

Armen Aristakesyan, 43 of Uxbridge Road, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 30 years’ in jail, after attacking Serafima Meshaka in her Ealing home and stealing from her.

During the nine-week trial at the Old Bailey, the court heard that Aristakesyan was a friend of Serafima’s, aged 58, and had grown closer to her in recent months, in order to gain her trust.

Police were called on 18 September, 2019, to Serafima’s address at a block in Haven Green Court, W5 after concerns for her welfare were raised.

Serafima was found lying face down in the bathroom of her third-floor apartment and was pronounced dead a short time later.

A post-mortem deemed the cause of death as severe and multiple blunt trauma to the head.

Armen Aristakesyan was sentenced to life at the Old Bailey. (Image: Metropolitan Police)

Police found no signs of any forced entry or disturbance.

The court heard that Ms Meshaka kept a quantity of cash at her home address to pay for building work she had been having carried out.

It was suggested by the prosecution that Aristakesyan knew she kept this money at home and planned to steal it from her to resolve his financial difficulties, after growing increasingly desperate when his payment deadline was approaching.

Aristakesyan was known to be owing approximately £120,000 to illegal loan sharks.

CCTV showed Serafima leaving the communal entrance of the block just before 8pm on 17 September to get a parking permit from a friend’s car, she returned alone a few minutes later.

CCTV footage showed Aristakesyan at Haven Green Court. (Image: Metropolitan Police)

At 8:25pm that same evening, Aristakesyan arrived at Haven Green Court.

He had also come earlier that evening in what the prosecution said was a failed attempt to carry out his crime because the building workers had still been present.

On this later occasion, he was seen to be in possession of a small man bag on arrival, however when he left at 9:21pm he was carrying a bigger ‘bag for life’-type carrier bag in which it is suspected he carried the stolen cash and murder weapon.

Phone enquiries established that Aristakesyan had communicated with his brother through brief calls and texts whilst inside the address.

In one such call which was recorded and played in evidence to the court he can be heard saying: “Come, there is much”.

The court also heard transcripts of other phone calls dating back to February 2019 that the defendant had recorded on his mobile phone and which suggested he was in significant debt to a male called “The Turk”.

During interview Aristakesyan accepted he had visited Serafima that night, but told police he had left her alive and, following his visit to her he had gone with his brother to a relative’s home before going on to meet another man in Victoria, supposedly for a discussion about buying a care home business.

He claimed the bag he is seen carrying on CCTV contained items Ms Meshaka had given him to take to a charity shop.

It is accepted that Arisakesyan’s brother facilitated his leaving from near to the scene and his transport to Victoria for the meeting in which the prosecution say, he handed over the stolen cash.

Arisakesyan’s brother was originally arrested and charged with assisting an offender however the case against him was later discontinued by the CPS.

Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, from the Specialist Crime Command, said: “Serafima was going about her life as normal on the evening she died.

“Serafima was no threat at all to Aristakesyan but he betrayed her confidence and attacked her in her own home, her safe space, in the most cowardly way. Her family remain devastated and are still coming to terms with her untimely loss.”

A victim impact statement from Serafima's former husband said: "Nothing will bring my wife back, no sentence this man can get for this horrific crime would ever be enough.

“She was a wonderful person whom will forever be greatly missed."

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